It is an upright broadleaf evergreen shrub from China and Japan. It is likened to bamboo in habit and appearance but is actually related to barberry.
Popular and widely planted in the south, this clump-forming plant produces open cane-like branches topped with airy compound leaves that are blue-green in color and leathery in texture. Leaves are often bright copper-red as they emerge and a burnished red color in winter. In summer, white panicles of small star-shaped flowers appear followed by clusters of round red berries that persist into winter.
Now about teh edibility. The leaves are easy to figure out, young and tender boiled twice. Not great but edible. Fruit? Why do some authorities say they are edible and some say they are not, though it is agreed the most they give you if eaten raw in small amounts is a stomach ache. This is pure speculation on my part but since the plant does have hydrocyanic acid in it the Nandina might be like the red elderberry. With that plant the seeds in the berries have hydrocyanic acid and can upset your stomach or make you more sick if consumed in large amounts. However, if you remove the seeds from the red elderberries the pulp is edible. Berries are poisonous to birds and animals. (more useful info: http://www.eattheweeds.com/not-so-heavenly-bamboo-nandina-2/)
Heavenly bamboo prefers some shade but can tolerate sun. As a garden specimen it grows best in warm-temperate to subtropical climates and thrives in fertile, evenly moist soil. Traditionally planted in Asian temple gardens, it looks great en masse, as a specimen plant, or in mixed borders. (source: learn2grow.com)
Genus - Nandina
Species - Domestica
Common name - Sacred Bamboo
Pre-Treatment - Required
Hardiness zones - 6 - 9
Height - 2-8' / 0.60 - 2.40 m
Spread - 3-4' / 0.90 - 1.20 m
Plant type - Medium Shrub
Vegetation type - Evergreen
Exposure - Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade
Growth rate - Medium
Soil PH - Acidic, Neutral
Soil type - Loam, Sand, Well Drained
Water requirements - Average Water
Landscape uses - Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Groundcover, Hedges, Mixed Border, Tropical
Germination rate - 70%
Bloom season - Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer
Leaf / Flower color - Green, Blue Green / White, Light Pink
|Germination||Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours.|
Stratification: 30-60 days cold moist pre-chilling recommended. Keep the soaked seeds at +2-+4C (refrigerator) in zip-lock airtight bag for 30-60 days.
After that sow seed 1/8 inch deep, tamp the soil, mulch the seed bed.
When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood 10 - 15cm long, July/August in a frame. Pot up in the autumn and overwinter in a cold frame. Plant out in late spring. High percentage but very slow. Cuttings of mature wood, 10 - 15cm with a heel, November in a frame. Plant out the following autumn. High percentage but very slow.